A response from a lawyer invited by a potential client via a discussion-based website does not amount “solicitation”

On March 2, 2015, the Committee on Professional Ethics of the New York State Bar issued Opinion 1049 providing guidelines on how lawyers could respond to potential clients’ who has posted a question on a discussion-based website (such as Reddit and Twitter) asking to be contacted about a particular legal problem.

Digest: “A. Where a potential client posts a message on a website asking to be contacted by a lawyer about a particular legal problem, a New York lawyer may respond in the manner invited by the potential client.  A response invited by the potential client does not constitute “solicitation,” but a communication about the services of the lawyer or law firm for the purposes of securing retention would constitute “advertising.”  B.  An attorney may post on a website to solicit plaintiffs for a case, unless the post relates to a specific incident involving potential claims for personal injury or wrongful death and is disseminated before the end of the cooling off period in Rule 7.3(e).  The communication is subject to the Rules on attorney advertising. If the post referred to a specific incident, it also would constitute a solicitation and Rule 7.3, including the filing requirements of Rule 7.3(c), would apply as well.” 

As for the answer, which amount to advertising, the Committee reminds that “the requirements [are among others] labeling as “advertising,” retention of copies for specified periods and inclusion of the address and telephone number of the lawyer’s “principal law office.” See Rule 7.1(f), (h), (k).

For more information, Nathan M. Crystal

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